Living in Brisbane and need a day to recharge your batteries? My advice is to head to North Stradbroke Island affectionately called Straddie or Minjerribah by the original settlers on the island. It’s the second largest sand island in the world (Fraser Island is the biggest and more famous) but Straddie is perfect for a day trip. ‘Discovered’ by Captain Cook in 1770, who didn’t bother to set foot on the island, Minjerribah has been home to the Quandamooka Peoples for more than 25,000 years. The honour of the first recorded visit by Europeans goes to Matthew Flinders who came ashore for fresh water supplies and befriended the locals who helped him find it. Enough history, let’s go.
Since our travelling has been curtailed and we are all tired of sitting at home thinking we may never leave Australia again, our travel group decided to take a day trip “overseas”. When you ask someone if they’ve been overseas and they reply, “Yes, Straddie,” I’ll know we won’t have a lot in common. Since my kids have grown and left the nest, travelling and writing about my travels is what I love to do most.
Leaving Cleveland Harbour every hour is the Stradbroke Flyer, one of two catamarans that ‘fly’ to and from the island. After a calm relaxing trip across Moreton Bay, our cat, the Legacy Arthur Groom, named after one of Queensland’s early pioneers, arrived in Dunwich, where it berthed at a long jetty. If you’re peckish, there’s coffee and muffins available on board, but we decided to wait.
Right next to the jetty, you’ll find the bus stop where visitors and residents alike line up for the bus to take them to various spots across the island; Amity Point, Adder Rock Campground, Anchorage Apartments, Cylinder Beach, the Point Lookout Hotel or the final stop, our destination, the little township of Point Lookout and the starting point for our planned coastal walk, but not before having a coffee and caramel slice at the local bakery, aptly named Loaves. (The fish and chip shop next door is Fishes.)
The township of Point Lookout (Mooloomba to the First Peoples) sports every type of dwelling from rough beach shacks to multi-million-dollar mansions – of course, it’s the view you pay for. It was these views the North Gorge walking track gave us in spades. It’s not a long walk, only about 1.5 kilometres, but it’s a very safe, well-maintained track- actually the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Not only are there handrails, but non-slip surfaces on all the boardwalks and stairs of which there are a quite a few.
Every hundred metres or so, there’s a seat to sit and enjoy the views (and look for humpback whales migrating from their Hervey Bay nursery back to Antarctica). We didn’t see any whales, but we did see dolphins frolicking in the waves, some sea turtles in the Gorge, as well as some snorkellers. Bird life abounds but since I know nothing about birds, I can’t tell you what they are. I did learn that pandanus trees have fruit resembling a pineapple. When ripe, pandanus fruits contain an oily, protein rich, nutty tasting seed which can be eaten raw or roasted, but we didn’t stop to taste test. Instead we headed back to Fishes for lunch.
Deciding to spoil myself, I ordered king prawns, avocado and salad, and a piccolo of sparkling wine. Good choice! The king prawns were truly king-size and delicious, and the salad wasn’t bad either. We sat around chatting until it was time to catch the bus back to Dunwich.
The ferry hadn’t yet arrived, so we wandered around Dunwich Cemetery and found out some of the history of Dunwich as a quarantine station. No sooner did it open in 1850, but a ship, the Emigrant, arrived riddled with typhus. Eighteen people had died at sea and a further 28 died and are buried here at Dunwich; two of them have marked graves but we didn’t have time to find them before the catamaran arrived at the jetty. No time for koala watching either – one inhabits the eucalypts here keeping watch on all who arrive. Not really, he’s so busy eating the gum leaves, he’s almost eaten one tree bare.
You can find the island’s only primary school here in Dunwich as well as one of the two fire brigades (the other is Amity Point) and the Little Ships Club right on the waterfront beside the jetty. We are planning to return here to one of their special event days (there are three) before Christmas.
Running, well to be truthful, walking fast, we were last to board the Calypso, the Legacy’s sister ship, and sailed back to the mainland feeling our minds cleansed and our spirits revived.
And the cost of this day out in paradise? For seniors, $10 return on the boat, and $5 return (cash) on the bus. Of course, this doesn’t include your morning tea or lunch, but if your budget is tight, you could take a picnic – there are some beautiful spots to sit and eat and maybe catch sight of one of the majestic humpbacks.
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